This space age beauty gadget shrinks a 20-minute mask treatment into just 2 and helps you get more out of your skincare. We put it to the test
Have you ever had a facial and been so wowed by your skin, that you’ve bought EVERYTHING? But somehow in your own bathroom, the creams, serums and cleansers that you’ve had baked beans on toast all week to pay for, don’t quite pack the same punch?
Ingredients are only half the story when it comes to results. A good percentage of the performance comes from the way products are applied. In the spa, a therapist will likely warm your face with steam or a hot towel to widen the pores and increase circulation. They’ll spend time pressing and massaging all those layers of unguents deep into your skin, where they can work their magic. They'll make sure you have even coverage and the very act of massage gives you some depuffing manual lymphatic drainage too. Do you have time/space/inclination/expertise to do this at home? Do you, heck!
In which case, you really do need to meet UFO 2 by FOREO Sweden. This nifty hand-held device can be used in two main ways: as a power masking device with any one of FOREO's 13 Power Activated Masks, or you can freestyle with your own creams and serums using it as a skincare infuser as if you were in the hands of a facialist. I say this having been challenged by FOREO Sweden to try it for a week. I have noticed just how much better not just my own skincare, but FOREO'S own Power Activated Masks make my skin look and feel.
What does FOREO UFO 2 do?
Hard to believe but this USB-chargeable disc does four very cool things all at once with pretty much no fuss or effort on your part. Its Hyper-Infusion Technology combines heating, cooling and FOREO'S trademark T-Sonic™ pulsations to power up your skincare absorption. In addition, it has full-spectrum LED with eight colours to address different skin concerns. A bit like having a facial, someone else does the thinking for you.
How does FOREO UFO 2 work as a Power Activated Mask treatment?
Instead of you having to spend a full 20 minutes with a sheet mask flapping about, this does the job in two minutes. You log on to the Foreo For You app, which immediately pairs with your device, scan the mask barcode and clip the disc-shaped sliver of mask to the aluminium plate with the device's plastic ring. Then you're all set; glide it over you face as it takes you through a programme tailored to the skincare in the mask you’ve chosen.
I chose the new Cannabis Seed Oil mask, which is calming and hydrating. My programme began with anti-pigmentation green LED, combined with cooling cryotherapy, followed by blemish busting blue light. Every UFO 2 mask programme has T-Sonic™ Pulsations for massage and to infuse the mask essences into your skin.
I tried several other masks too from the Farm to Face collection of smart masks which also features a Manuka Honey Mask and Bulgarian Rose Mask. They're all full of natural ingredients and contain less fragrance making them suitable for sensitive skin. The Acai Berry maks made an excellent primer.
Why is cannabis seed oil good so for the skin?
The creamy gel-like Cannabis Seed Oil Mask made my skin look and feel calm and extremely hydrated. There is enough in the mask sachet for at least three applications, so I was able to do three treatments back-to-back (still only six minutes). But what's behind this much-hyped ingredient?
Cannabis seed oil (not to be confused with hemp seed oil) contains CBD, which is a powerful multitasker as aesthetic doctor Dr Anita Sturnham explains. “Numerous studies have shown that CBD oil has anti-inflammatory benefits when applied to the skin," she says. "This makes CBD a suitable ingredient for acne-prone skin, where the pathophysiology stems from raised levels of inflammation within the pores."
Its skin-calming benefits also make this ingredient beneficial for rosacea and dermatitis prone skin types, she adds. What’s more, CBD oil has antioxidant properties, making it a useful anti-ageing ingredient, she says. “By counteracting free-radical damage from environmental stressors and reducing inflammation signals, CBD skincare claims include its potential to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin radiance and tone.”
The aluminium plate turns cool with this mask and this helps to tighten the pores and reduce inflammation. Cryotherapy has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, as does cannabis seed oil. Both treatments have also been shown to slow and regulate sebum production, making this combination an effective duo for those prone to enlarged pores, congestion and breakouts, says Dr Sturnham.
How do you use FOREO UFO2 without a mask as a skincare infuser?
This is where it gets even more clever and game-ified. You can apply your own skincare to UFO2, whether it’s retinol, a vitamin C, a hyaluronic acid serum, a facial oil or even thick cleansing butter directly to the plate (avoid anything abrasive though). You can even use it over a conventional full face mask – I found the bio-cellulose sheet masks better for glide than paper masks.
Then you have two options, either pick a programme from a FOREO UFO 2 mask setting that you like – or hack the controls.
How? FOREO 's Head of Education Chris Luckham tipped me off about the ‘settings’ button on the app which allows you to customise your treatment (above, right). Choose which of the eight LED lights you require, then whether to have Thermo Therapy Mode or Cryo Therapy Mode on and lastly the strength of your T-Sonic™ pulsations. The pulsations go up to level 10, which is 10,000 pulsations per second, stronger than the FOREO LUNA 3 which has 8,000. However, because the pulsations are spread over a larger surface they don’t feel as strong, so I was comfortable ramping up to a 10.
The pulsations are where the infuser magic happens as GP Dr Raj Arora from The Face Bible Clinic explains: “T-Sonic™ pulsations create gentle movement on the surface of the skin. This allows for efficient yet gentle exfoliation which means that the skin’s most outer layer responds better to any serums or skincare products applied," she says. "The pulsations themselves help distribute serums consistently across the skin surface too. They may also help with deeper penetration of skincare products into the epidermis (top layer of the skin) - ensuring that you get the best out of your skincare products!”
Thermo-Therapy and Cryo-Therapy - please explain!
UFO 2's conductive aluminium plate allows for incredibly rapid heating and cooling so you really can run the gamut of temperature in a two-minute treatment. It's a bit like the Scandinavian tradition of having a sauna followed by an ice bath, which is so effective for the circulation, wellbeing and a healthy glow. The heat setting (45C) preps the skin, relaxes the muscles and allows for deeper serum penetration, while the cooling function (a skin safe 3C) works to tighten the pores. It works well in the morning especially combined with green LED light to reduce redness, puffiness and fade hyperpigmentation marks you might get after a spot has healed.
Chris advised me not to use the heat setting without a mask to act as a buffer as 45C can feel a little hot, although on my neck it was great for relaxing tight muscles. I found the best solution for a freestyle heat session was to use a FOREO Power Activated Mask that was already designed to work with the Thermo-Therapy setting and then take over the controls while using it.
Top tip from Chris: if you’re applying fake tan with a guide colour, the Cryo-Therapy setting will prevent that unsightly pore visibility, as it actively tightens them.
What does LED light therapy do for the skin?
It’s known that you need at least ten minutes of exposure to LED light for it to have a marked effect on your skin and this is where UFO 2 customisation capability really helps. There’s enough charge for around 40 two-minute sessions, so a ten-minute facial is easily achievable. Choose from purple, white, green, orange, blue, cyan, yellow and red lights.
Which colour LED light is best for skin? That depends on what your concerns are. Dr Raj explains, "LED light therapy uses colour wavelengths of visible light which have specific skin benefits. The skin uses the light as a source of energy to fuel the repair and rejuvenation of damaged cells, or, in the case of treating acne, kill bacteria. The energy stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, boosts circulation and accelerates tissue repair.”
Not only can LED help with regeneration, but the longer wavelengths van help your products absorb better, she explains. “Research has shown that the longer wavelength LED therapy increases cell membrane permeability and absorption. As a result, skincare products are absorbed better.”
White light has the longest wavelength, making this my choice skincare infusion. “Shorter wavelengths also have great benefits!” he reminds me. “Red light works on collagen production, blue light targets acne-causing bacteria on the skin and green light helps to eliminate blemishes and pigmentation,” she adds.
UFO 2 recently won Gold in the hotly-fought Best Innovator category of our Get The Gloss Beauty and Wellness Awards 2020 and for good reason. It really does give you an element of the professional spa facial at home, combining multiple technologies in a futuristic and ergonomic design. For a small device with just one single button, I was surprised at just how many treatment options I could access.
I had never properly considered skincare infusion as an important step, but the difference in how my skin feels after a masking treatment is marked. I can see just how much product my skin has absorbed. I've noticed less dryness after using retinol because my skin is generally better hydrated and calmer. What's more, my foundation is less likely to flake because my sin is not stealing its moisture. Functional and fun!
Written in partnership with FOREO. To find out more about UFO 2 visit foreo.com